In vivo spectrophotometric evaluation of skin barrier recovery after topical application of soybean phytosterols

J Cosmet Sci. 2008 May-Jun;59(3):217-24.


The skin's uppermost thin layer, stratum corneum, plays a crucial role in protecting the body against unwanted influences from the environment. Disruption of the stratum corneum, by tape stripping or chemical injury, results in epidermal recovery of the skin barrier. Soy phytosterols are widely used in the cosmetic field as active ingredients in creams and lipsticks. Furthermore, they deserve an important place among nutracosmeceuticals; in fact, after their absorption from the diet they are transferred from the plasma to the skin, playing an important role in the constitution of skin surface lipids. The aim of the present work was to study the effect of the topical application of soybean phytosterols on skin barrier recovery in human volunteers using the extent of methyl nicotinate (MN)-induced erythema in damaged skin as a parameter to evaluate the rate of stratum corneum recovery. MN was chosen as an erythematogenous substance for its capability to cause an erythema whose intensity and duration are proportional to the quantity of the substance that has entered the living epidermis over time. MN-induced erythema was monitored using reflectance spectrophotometry as a noninvasive instrumental technique. The results show clearly that soy phytosterols exert positive results on skin repair; in fact, three days after tape stripping, the sites treated with a formulation containing phytosterols showed an appreciable recovery of barrier function compared to those treated with a vehicle control without soy phytosterols.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Glycine max / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phytosterols / administration & dosage*
  • Phytosterols / pharmacokinetics
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods


  • Phytosterols